Death of pet dog in transit prompts Singapore Airlines probe

File photo – The owner of the dog said she was only told of the death when she reached Ho Chi Minh City. Source: Shutterstock

SINGAPORE AIRLINES has built a name as one of the world’s best airlines but the untimely death of a four-year-old American cocker spaniel before a flight at Changi Airport recently is threatening its reputation.

Shabana Mary Kuruvilla, the owner of the dog named Charlie, alleged the airline had been negligent in handling her pet, which died in its crate at the airport before it boarded a two-hour flight to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on Sept 2.

According to the Straits Times, Shabana said she arranged for the dog to fly with her family in the crate and claims she was only informed of the death when the family reached Vietnam.

In a post on Facebook, Shabana, whose family was relocating to Vietnam, said Charlie’s crate was handled by the national carrier’s pet-handling staff as the family checked in their luggage.

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Although a pilot announced that a pet was on board the flight, Shabana said she was told of the death when she reached Ho Chi Minh City. She also learned that Charlie died in Singapore and never boarded the same flight.

On the same day of her arrival, the owner said she had to take a flight back to Singapore where she found “evidence of a big struggle” in the dog’s cage as a sign that the pet had been in distress.

The owner pointed out that her pet had an injury to the paw and had chewed up an entire cotton wee pad.

Shabana admitted, however, that the airline’s staff at the boarding gate informed her that the dog was emitting mucous and showed signs of anxiousness, but she dismissed it as a normal occurrence.

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“They never told us that our dog was severely distressed,” she said in criticising the airlines for its apparent poor customer service. She said she had filed a police report into the matter and was told by the airline that it was investigating the case.

“I want the airline to take this incident seriously as it clearly handled the matter in an insensitive manner,” she said, as quoted by the Straits Times.

“I am hoping this incident helps the airline make changes to the way pets are handled to ensure more safety for pets.”

Meanwhile, the airline said it was unable to share details of the probe due to privacy purposes. “We wish to express our sincere condolences to the owners at this time,” it said.